Angela Empire, in the northwest plains of the expansive Tukla Desert.
Yellowish sand littered and piled the lands to the edge of the horizon and back. Bald eagles that survived by feeding on carcasses had not had a thing to eat for a very long time. They were starved to skin and bones. Their eyes gave off a glint of insane starvation as they constantly circled around in the sky.
A sand storm whizzed by like a yellow fog, shrouding a large tract of region in fine dust.
Just as numerous as the sand grains around them were massive lumps of ants. They would move in large numbers and devour any living thing in their path. Some of the magical beasts that roamed in the deserts couldn’t escape from those ants and were stripped to the bones.
All throughout the journey, strange and rare skeletons of ferocious beasts could be seen all over the place. There were unknown dangers lurking everywhere.
It was the Calamity Church’s rule that every member and visitor had to walk on foot at the desert. As a friendly visitor, Han Shuo observed the Church’s rule. He followed behind Wolf and Burt Zili who chose not to fly but walk as well as they headed deep into the desert.
There were starving bald eagles constantly circling over their heads. On several occasions during their journey some bald eagles that couldn’t endure their hunger any longer took to diving down towards them, but were immediately reduced to ashes by a flash of light.
However, even so, the remaining starving bald eagles did not disperse. They must have been insanely hungry, as they continued to closely follow after the three.
“These bald eagles are really annoying. You two have killed seven of them in the journey so far. And yet, they still haven’t learned to be tactful,” Han Shuo said indifferently as he raised his head to look at the sky.
“For your Lordship’s information, in Tukla Desert, the primary source of food for these bald eagles are corpses of merchants. However, as the environment in Tukla Desert has grown worse and worse over these past few years, with all too many dangers, even the greediest of merchants dare not to traverse the Tukla Desert. Hence, these bald eagles did not have anything to eat for a long time and are starving like crazy. It’s very difficult to come by another living soul in this place. It’d be a wonder if they would leave us alone,” Burt Zili smiled and explained to Han Shuo in a fawning manner.
“I truly never expected your Calamity Church headquarters to actually be at the depths of this desolate Tukla Desert. Haha, no wonder so many powerhouses on the continent haven’t been able to locate you,” Han Shuo lamented. Since he first stepped into the Tukla Desert, he had faced unceasing attacks of all sorts. By now he of course recognized how treacherous the desert was. He felt that Calamity Church had indeed chosen an excellent strategic location.
“The Tukla Desert always has undoubtedly been a mysterious place, however it was never packed with as many dangers in the past as it is now. As our Church has set up headquarters here, naturally, we wouldn’t want any critters with ulterior motives to learn its location. Of those man-eating ants, bloodsucking bees, and the mutated venomous desert scorpions your Lordship saw along the way, a great majority of them were intentionally produced by us after we established ourselves in the desert.
With so many dangers lurking in every corner, even the greediest merchant band wouldn’t dare to take the risk to come in. Even if some countries come to learn of our position, due to the hostile environment, they would have no way of assembling armies to encircle and annihilate us. After all, the Tukla Desert is just too vast. When armies enter the desert, they simply cannot obtain sufficient supplies to sustain themselves. Besides, with so many terrifying animals and plants in the desert, many of them would simply give up on the thought,” Wolf smilingly explained.
Han Shuo nodded in understanding after listening to his words. As the master of the skeletal staff, Han Shuo was aware of a certain point in history from several hundred years ago. He knew that the Calamity Church had done a certain demented thing and turned itself to be the public enemy of the entire Profound Continent. Back then, every country on the continent joined forces to destroy the Calamity Church for good. The Church had no choice but to change its operation mode from open to secretive.
As the public enemy of the entire Profound Continent, if the Calamity Church’s headquarters were to be discovered, what they would face was likely to be the allied armies of all countries on Profound Continent. Their very careful choice of establishing their headquarters deep in the Tukla Desert and taking so much effort to make the desert more dangerous were necessary measures. Otherwise, they would likely have been completely eradicated long ago.
“But the situation on the continent is different now. During these years, some of the countries have become inseparably linked with us. Even if the location of our Calamity Church headquarters was to be revealed, there wouldn’t be too many countries that would participate in crusading against us, except for countries that profess faith in the Light God and are secretly supported by the Church of Light,” Wolf said with pride.
“The Church of Light must know your location, right?” asked Han Shuo. The two religious organizations were mortal enemies. Given the influence the Church of Light had on Profound Continent, there was no way that they wouldn’t know where the Calamity Church headquarters was located.
“That’s right. The Church of Light indeed knows that we are in the Tukla Desert. However, just like us not daring to attack the sacred mountain of the Church of Light, they too have never dared to launch major offenses into the Tukla Desert. This stalemate has lasted for several hundred years,” Burt Zili answered. Wolf explained further, “We have managed the Tukla Desert for many years and have filled it with untold numbers of all kinds of dangers. Them launching large-scale attacks would only be making a rod for their own backs. But if only a few experts attacked, we wouldn’t be afraid of that given our Church’s strength.”
“So that’s the case. It appears that your Calamity Church is mighty indeed. Perhaps the only power on the whole of Profound Continent that could make the Church of Light feel apprehensive is your Church,” Han Shuo nodded and praised.
“Haha, my Lord, you have misspoken. You mean ‘our’ Calamity Church. Ever since the skeletal staff reappeared with you, the Calamity Church has considered your Lordship as one of our own. It doesn’t matter if you acknowledge that or not, but your Lordship is always one of us. Even the Church of Light considers you so,” Burt Zili laughed and said to Han Shuo in a cunning manner. He seemed very proud of himself.
Han Shuo smiled and did not make any comment on Burt Zili’s words.
As most of the perils on the Tukla Desert were arranged there by the Calamity Church, they had the means of defusing them. Some of the most terrifying creatures such as man-eating ants and bloodsucking bees they met along the way were repelled by Wolf and Burt Zili using a type of exotic incense. While magical beasts that suddenly emerge from sand dunes which would be a nightmare for merchants were effortlessly taken care of by Wolf.
Although they faced many dangers in their journey, the trio was unimpeded. Enduring the scorching sun hanging over their heads and the searing sand beneath their feet, step by step they walked into the depths of Tukla Desert.
Although the three walked on foot, their moving speed was faster than that of an ordinary person sprinting. They would appreciate the bleak yet majestic scenery of the desert as they walked, or perhaps discuss certain insider matters of the Calamity Church. At a time where the chilling wind of nighttime was blowing wildly, Burt Zili and Wolf suddenly stopped at an enormous field of uneven sand dunes.
“Why are we stopping?” Han Shuo asked confusedly as Wolf and Burt halted in their tracks. There were only big and small uneven sand dunes all around him with no man-made features visible.
“We have arrived,” Wolf smiled and explained.
Han Shuo raised his eyebrows. Han Shuo, who had been breathing in the beautiful scenery, suddenly unfolded his consciousness. He suddenly began to chuckle. He nodded and said, “So, it’s underground. Oh, I sensed numerous presences of life underground. The facility under there appears to be massive.”
“Your Lordship is indeed extraordinary to be able to sense the situation underground through all those barriers around the headquarters!” Burt Zili exclaimed in admiration. He was aware of just how many concealment boundaries were overlaid from the sand dune to the Calamity Church headquarters. Although the Church of Light knew that the Calamity Church headquarters was in the desert, they clearly didn’t think to dig deeper. There had been experts who secretly scouted the desert but they just couldn’t find anything. But amazingly, Han Shuo could immediately detect the situation under meters of sand and barriers the moment he arrived. Burt Zili found this to be highly admirable.
Han Shuo smiled and closed his eyes to carefully sense for a while. He was shocked and blurted out, “There are several thousand people living down there! It occupies such an enormous space! No wonder the Calamity Church could contend against the Church of Light for so long!”
“Your Lordship is impressive!” Wolf too was very astonished that Han Shuo could tell the population number down below when he was still separated by layers upon layers of barriers.
“Oh? A few people are coming up. They have pretty decent strength,” Han Shuo’s consciousness sensed that a group of people was ascending from several hundred meters underground. Of the group, there was actually a mighty basegod and a demigod. He knew that the Calamity Church must have some unique method of surveilling the scene on the surface from below.
“It must be one of the cardinals coming to receive us. Haha, the deeds that your Lordship has conducted these years have just been too sensational. Although your Lordship has never visited our headquarters, many youngsters over here view your Lordship as an idol. You have no idea how much they adore you!” Burt Zili exclaimed in sincere admiration. From his appearance, it was as though he was one among Han Shuo’s fans.
As Burt Zili fawningly explained, a rumbling came from the sand the three were stepping on. A type of energy spread from underground and a sand dune suddenly flowed outwards before the three. It didn’t take long before the sand dune disappeared to reveal an elevator with the capacity to hold ten people rising to the surface. A big fatty with an extremely robust build occupied more than half of the space in the elevator. His small eyes swelled and sparkled as he drooled at Han Shuo and the party beaming ear to ear.
Han Shuo sensed a mighty energy of destruction from this big fatty’s body. With just one look, Han Shuo was certain that this big fatty was a mighty basegod cultivating in the edict of destruction. Standing behind the big fatty was a skinny, almost ghoulish old man. His body carried an intense element of darkness. Han Shuo knew that he was the demigod that his consciousness picked up on.
“Your Holiness!” Before Han Shuo could move a muscle, Wolf and Burt Zili suddenly kneeled and respectfully saluted.
Han Shuo was stunned. He did not expect the Pope of the Calamity Church to personally welcome him in. It appeared that the Calamity Church definitely took him very seriously.